Soon the way became steep and difficult and the path so narrow they were forced to go single file. Then Cassandra led and David followed. They passed no dwellings, and even the little home to which they were going was lost to view. He wondered if she were not weary, remembering that she had been over the distance twice before that day, and begged her, as he had done when they set out, to allow him to carry the basket, but still she would not.
"I never think of it. I often carry things this way.—We have to here in the mountains." She glanced back at him and smiled. "I reckon you find it hard because you are not used to living like we do; we're soon there now, see yonder?"
A turn in the path brought them in sight of the cabin, set in its bare, desolate patch of red soil. About the door swarmed unkempt children of all sizes, as bees hang out of an over-filled hive, the largest not more than twelve years old, and the youngest carried on the mother's arm. It was David's first visit to one of the poorest of the mountain homes, and he surveyed the scene before him with dismay.
Below the house was a spring, and there, suspended from the long-reaching branch of a huge beech tree, now leafless and bare, a great, black iron pot swung by a chain over a fire built on the ground among a heap of stones. On a board at one side lay wet, gray garments, twisted in knots as they had been